May 9, 2013, 10:11 AM
The clean up week panel discussion forum on sustainable development with special focus on school gardening, forest and waste management, organised by Young Volunteer Environment-The Gambia was held yesterday at the Gambia College campus in Brikama in the West Coast Region.
The executive director of Young Volunteer Environment-The Gambia, Joe Bongay, said the post 2015 Development Agenda follows the MDGS which are set to expire in less than two years.
Bongay said a flurry of activities have been ongoing at the global, regional and national level, aimed at identifying what should be included in a development agenda in the post MDGs era.
The clean energy for Africa project and the “Keep It Clean” initiative of his organisation is one important aspect of these multi-level activities, he said.
He said putting sustainable development at the core recognizes the significant inter-linkage between economic, social and environmental sustainability, and the importance of tackling climate change.
He said the call to transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth echoes the vision to assist young people, schools and regions in embarking on a structural economic transformation, focus at diversified economies, creating employment and adding value to natural resources.
Bongay added that our continent faces unique challenges and opportunities that require specific policy interventions and distinct goals for both economic and social development.
He said the YVE-The Gambia would do everything possible to promote this spirit in the process of designing, but also implementing initiatives in schools and local regions country-wide in partnership with stakeholders.
He added that the forum aimed to address strategies and approaches to deal with the ongoing issues of widespread poverty within the context of sustainable development.
The assistant regional director at the Forestry Department in the West Coast Region, Lamin Bajo, said deforestation is the removal of the forest or part of it through the activities of man or by natural events.
Trees are cut down to be used as fuelwood or to be processed into charcoal or timber and, in some cases, the use of the wood is a secondary activity, whilst the principle reason is to convert the forested land into a settlement.
Deforestation has been used in wars to deprive the enemy of cover, and the removal of trees results in damage to habitat, biodiversity loss and aridity, Bajo added.
The forest covers 31 per cent of the land area of the earth, according to Bajo, it provides shelter for man and wildlife; and researchers have shown that 1.6 billion people get their livelihood from the forest.
The government must set aside more protected areas and heavily invest in forestry and forest-related activities. People should be sensitized on a daily basis on the importance of forestry, and the consequences of deforestation, Bajo went on.
The government should advocate for a shift from biomass to bio-energy, the use of scrap wood, oil and fats, sugar and starch crop residues, animal waste. Renewable energy should be used in the place of forest products, Bajo continued.